Miami-Florida (7-1) at Hawaii (5-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 22, 12:30 a.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) -- Honolulu, Hawaii. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Miami 5-0, Hawaii 4-2. Away Record: Miami 2-1, Hawaii 0-1. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, Hawaii 1-0. Conference Record: Miami 0-0, Hawaii 0-0. Series Record: Miami-Florida leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The annual Diamond Head Classic gets underway on Saturday as host school Hawaii welcomes the Hurricanes of Miami-Florida for a non-conference battle at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
Miami arrives on the island having won six straight games after losing unexpectedly to Florida Gulf Coast by double digits back on Nov. 13. The team was most recently in action on Tuesday when it captured a 72-50 win against UCF on the road.
While it won't be easy, Miami head coach Jim Larranaga could reach the 500-win plateau for his career while in Honolulu as he arrives with a record of 497-348 in 29 seasons of college basketball.
As for the Rainbow Warriors, who are set to play six straight games in their own building moving forward, they are coming off their largest scoring output in nearly two decades with a 104-93 win over Chaminade last weekend. Hawaii, which snapped a two-game slide with the victory, scored 63 points in the first half against the Silverswords, which was three shy of the team record set back in 1972.
The Hurricanes own a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series with Hawaii, thanks to a narrow 84-82 win at home in the most recent encounter back in 1969.
The winner of this meeting will go up against the winner of the Arizona/East Tennessee State contest, while the losers contend on the other side of the tournament bracket.
Against UCF earlier this week, the 'Canes held the hosts to a mere 35.4 percent shooting from the floor, including 5-of-22 beyond the arc. Offensively, Miami was paced by Reggie Johnson who recorded a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, while Durand Scott led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. Other starters in double figures for the visitors were Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadji with 11 and 10 points, respectively. A starter in all five games in which he has appeared, Scott leads the team in scoring with 15.6 ppg and is one of the top men on the glass as well with close to seven per contest. Larkin checks in with 14.8 ppg and a team-best 33 assists, followed by Johnson who is averaging a double- double with 12.6 points and a team-high 10.1 rebounds per game. Defensively, this group is holding the competition to only 29.5 percent shooting beyond the arc and 59.8 ppg overall.
Considering the Warriors scored a total of just 56 points in their loss to Pepperdine at home a couple weeks ago, the team's 63-point, first-half outburst against Chaminade was certainly unexpected. The squad ended up shooting 60.0 percent from the floor for the game, including 11-of-21 beyond the arc, and yet the defense allowed the Silverswords to hang around a bit too long. Christian Standhardinger registered a double-double with 20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, followed by Isaac Fotu and Brandon Spearman with 18 points apiece, while Hauns Brereton tacked on 12 points, Vander Joaquim 11 and Brandon Jawato 10 points in just 10 minutes off the bench. Standhardinger finds himself as the center of attention for the Warriors through eight games, leading the program in both scoring (17.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg), while Joaquim isn't far behind in either category as he contributes 13.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest as well for a team that is topping opponents on the glass by almost eight per game.
Even though the Rainbow Warriors have played well at home for the most part, the competition has not been overwhelming, but that will change with the arrival of the Hurricanes and several other teams invited to this event.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 82, Hawaii 72
12/22 10:39:32 ET